Tag Archives: CommRadio CR-1

CommRadio CR-1 and WRTH: Power outage essentials

Like much of North America, we’re currently experiencing record low temperatures and strong winds here at our mountain home. This morning, I woke to no power and no Internet. My iPhone still works though, hence the ability to publish this post.

But no power is really no problem when it comes to SWLing. Indeed, for those living in urban areas, power outages represent temporary refuge from all of those electronic noises (RFI) that plague daily listening.

I’ve spent the morning SWLing with my CommRadio CR-1. The beauty of the CR-1 is that it can operate for hours on its internal battery and can also be charged/powered via USB or anything from a 6V to 18v DC power source. I’m currently charging the CR-1’s battery from our solar-powered battery bank. It makes me realize that the CR-1 is an ideal, top-shelf radio for off-grid DXing.

Additionally, I received my 2014 WRTH yesterday in the post. The WRTH is always a welcome delivery, but this morning was even more appreciated since it requires no power source whatsoever to work!

No power? No worries! With a WRTH and CommRadio CR-1 combo, I’m a happy listener!

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SWLing.com’s 2013 Holiday Shortwave and Radio Gift Guide

gift-wrapOne of the most popular posts on the SWLing Post each year is the annual Holiday Radio Gift Guide. I started this annual post in 2010 when I realized that it would be easier than answering an in-box full of individual emails from people seeking the perfect shortwave radio for their friend or loved one.

In the following, you’ll find a handful of select radios I recommend for the 2013-2014 gift-giving season. I’ve arranged this selection by price, starting with the most affordable.

For the benefit of those with less radio experience, this quick guide is basic, non-technical, and to the point. For more comprehensive reviews, please consult our Radio Reviews page.

Updated for the 2013-14 holiday season on 08 December 2013.

Simple, affordable and portable

The Shouyu SY-X5 mechanically-tuned, DSP portable radio. (Click to enlarge)

The Shouyu SY-X5 mechanically-tuned, DSP portable radio. (Click to enlarge)

ShouYu SY-X5 ($29)

You can’t buy a lot for $30 US these days, but I’m here to tell you that you can buy a unique, portable AM/FM/shortwave radio with a built-in MP3 player called the ShouYu SY-X5.  I made a full review of the SY-X5 earlier this year; in short, it surprised me. While this little radio’s receiver can’t compare to the others on this page performance-wise, it is still very respectable. The MP3 capability is worth the price. You can load a microSD card full of your favorite music (or shortwave radio recordings) for days of listening!

Indeed, the audio from the built-in speaker is superb for a radio this size. Th SY-X5 can be powered from multiple sources (a rechargeable built-in battery pack, AA batteries, or via USB power cable).

Since the ShouYu SY-X5 is only available from eBay sellers in Hong Kong, you need to allow at least two or three weeks shipment time from the seller. You might ask if they offer an expedited option.

Click here to search eBay for the ShouYu SY-X5.

Other considerations include the Degen DE32 (review here) or Degen DE321 (review here). Note that the Degen DE321 lacks an MP3 player.

Self-Powered Shortwave Goodness

The Tecsun Green 88

The Tecsun Green 88

Tecsun Green 88

In each issue of the holiday guide, I like to feature at least one self-powered radio.  Why? Because if you’re ever been left in the dark due to a natural disaster or extended power outage, these radios become invaluable.

The Tecsun Green 88 is not only self-powered, but quite a capable little analog shortwave radio.  It has a nested fine tuning control on the tuning knob, an easy to read display and will give you about 40 minutes of listening time (at moderate volume levels) from two minutes of cranking. The LED lamp on the front makes an excellent flashlight and reading lamp. Again, to my knowledge, this radio is only available from sellers in Hong Kong on eBay, so allow extra shipping time.

Click here to search eBay for the Tecsun Green 88.

Some other self-powered radio options you might consider are the Eton Rover and the Eton FRX2, though note that they both have NOAA weather radio channels instead of shortwave. A very useful feature, though, for weathering winter storms.

Portable & powerful shortwave receivers

The Tecsun PL-660

The Tecsun PL-660

The Tecsun PL-660 ($100-110 US)

With the introduction of the new Tecsun PL-880 this year, retailers have dropped the price of the PL-660; you can now find them between $100-110 US.

The PL-660 is an all-around excellent receiver with great sensitivity, selectivity and all of the features to please a casual listener or the experienced DXer. For a full-featured radio, the operation is so simple an owner’s manual is barely needed. The PL-660 covers the entire shortwave radio spectrum, LW, AM (medium wave), FM and even has an AIR band (to monitor aircraft communications).

Purchase the Tecsun PL-660 from:

The new Tecsun PL-880

The new Tecsun PL-880

The Tecsun PL-880 ($150-170 US)

[Update: Unfortunately, after reviewing the PL-880 favorably, I have discovered that many units–especially those purchased through Amazon.com–have an older firmware version and lack some functionality I would consider very important. I now suggest buyers wait until Tecsun has corrected this–sometime well after the holiday season.]

At time of posting, the Tecsun PL-880 has only been on the market for about a week. It is the newest flagship portable radio from Tecsun. I have been reviewing this radio for several days and find it to be an excellent choice, if your budget allows. (Indeed, reviewing this radio had lead to a late delivery of the Annual Gift Guide!)

If you would like to see and hear the PL-880 in action, simply click on this link and explore the numerous posts and comments.

In short: it’s a great radio with superb audio from the built-in speaker. It’s also designed to make the amateur radio operator happy as it has an array of filter selections for the ham bands. In my experience, the selectivity and sensitivity are on par with the PL-660 (mentioned above).  Click here to read a full review of the PL-880.

The PL-880 is only available from a few retailers so far–most of whom are on eBay. Again, I purchase all Tecsun products from Anon-Co–I’m sure there are other qualified sellers on eBay, but Anon-Co provides excellent customer service. My PL-880 was shipped by Anon-Co and received in 3 days!:

Tabletop Performance

The CommRadio CR-1 is sure to please even the most discriminating radio listener in your life.

The CommRadio CR-1 is sure to please even the most discriminating radio listener in your life.

CommRadio CR-1 ($600 US)

The CommRadio CR-1 was introduced early this year and began shipping in the Spring. While you can read my full review of the CR-1 by clicking here, in a nutshell, it’s a brilliant little receiver! It wooed me from the moment I first saw it.

The CR-1 is made in Colorado, USA by CommRadio, a company well-versed in radio avionics. It’s thoughtfully engineered, relatively small (über portable), and meets all of my performance needs. It’s also a fun little radio and very easy to operate.  The CR-1 can be updated by the user via a USB cable and free PC software. Many of the updates include minor tweaks requested by users and even new features.

Only one catch: CommRadio has sold out of their stock for the holiday season. They’re offering a $25 coupon (see below) if you order and don’t mind an early January delivery time. However, call Universal Radio as they had radios in stock at time of this posting.

Purchase the CommRadio CR-1 from:

  • CommRadio (until December 31, 2013 use the coupon code CR12014 at check out to receive $25 off the price) or
  • Universal Radio who may have them in stock to ship

Other tabletop radios to consider are the Alinco DX-R8 and the Icom R-75.

Looking for an accessory?

UniversalRadioIn addition to the radios above, there are many antennas, accessories, books and used gear that you might consider. I would encourage you to contact Universal Radio and speak with one of their staff to seek suggestions. I mention Universal Radio frequently, because they are one of the only remaining true shortwave radio retailers in the US. If you live in Canada, you might also consider Durham Radio, in the UK, Waters & Stanton. (Readers: if you have suggestions of radio retailers in your country, please comment on this post.)

Want more gift options?  Try our 20122011 or 2010 gift guides, take a look through our shortwave radio reviews guide and/or our simplified reviews page.
Happy Holidays!

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Review of the CommRadio CR-1 software defined radio

The following review of the CommRadio CR-1 was first published in the August 2013 issue of Monitoring Times magazine.

CommRadio CR-1

The CommRadio CR-1 software defined radio

The CommRadio CR-1 software defined radio

By and large, new products on our radio receiver market these days tend to be SDRs or software-defined radios.  And it’s a good thing:  by reinterpreting radio digitally, it helps ensure that radio will have a place in this century.  Moreover, I’m a big fan of SDRs, as they typically offer a lot of performance for the price. In fact, my main receiver these days is the WinRadio Excalibur SDR. It’s the receiver I use for the bulk of my radio recordings as well as for band scanning.

SDRs often look like a small box with power button, antenna connections, usually computer connections, and, well, that’s about it.  Many refer to the SDR as a “little black box.” SDRs don’t require a display; rather, they rely on your PC for this and all other functions.

When I first heard that CommRadio was introducing a new SDR, designed and built in the USA, I expected a similar product, in the form of a small black box.  Instead, I encountered a display, tuning knob, volume control, and several front panel buttons; in essence, a small stand-alone self-contained battery-operated SDR tabletop receiver! Needless to say, this was unexpected.

First impressions


(Click to enlarge)

When I saw the CR-1 for the first time in person, I was simply amazed by its construction. Being a fan of modest, simple designs, the CR-1 is all that––and, for lack of a better word, “cute.”

But don’t be fooled by the “cute:”  the CR-1 is a very solid product, and a tough one. The case is made of 20 gauge steel, the front panel from machined aluminium, and the tuning knob from black anodized aluminum. Four substantial resin feet lift the CR-1 a full inch, making the height of the controls comfortably accessible, and providing excellent stability while tuning or pressing buttons on the front face.

The OLED display is small–only measuring 1.5” wide by ¾” high–but the resolution is extremely crisp and easy to read, even at a distance or outdoors. All of the relevant information–frequency, filter width, mode, “S” meter–is accommodated by the modest display.

But what about actual operation?  Fortunately, I met Don Moore, president of CommRadio, at the 2013 Dayton Hamvention; he kindly arranged to provide a CR-1 for review.


(Click to enlarge)

The CommRadio CR-1, I’m happy to report, is a pleasure to operate. I was able to intuit all of the receiver functions without consulting the owner’s manual even once, a major plus.

To turn on the radio, you simply push the volume control knob, the OLED screen displays a “welcome” message, and you’re in business! The CR-1 also defaults to the last used frequency, mode, and filter settings, which is convenient.

There is no numeric keypad for direct frequency entry, only a tuning knob and buttons which allow you to move through the bands. To compensate for a lack of keypad, the CR-1 has a few unique features:

  • The tuning knob is adaptive to your tuning speed––the faster you tune the encoder, the more it will increase its tuning steps.
  • Tuning to a specific frequency is easy: simply push the tuning knob once to highlight the frequency cursor, then rotate the encoder to reposition the cursor, and press again to lock the position. You can also use the right/left arrow keys to reposition the frequency cursor.
  • By setting the automatic tuning mode, the CR-1 will automatically change the mode and tuning steps to coincide with standard band plans.
  • You can set the CR-1 to change bands according to the Amateur Radio or Shortwave Broadcast meter band plans.

(Click to enlarge)

The  tuning knob, while not large, is appropriately sized for the front panel of the receiver. Though not noticeably weighted, a good thing for a small tuning knob, it’s accurate, responsive, comfortable to use for long periods of time, and the finger dimple is perfectly sized for operational ease.

Switching modes is simply a matter of pressing the dedicated MODE button on the front panel of the CR-1, then cycling through options with the right/left arrow keys.


The CommRadio CR-1 has a good selection of filters which appear to be well-chosen for the appropriate modes. They are as follows:

  • CW: 500 Hz, 1.0, 1.8, & 2.6 kHz
  • SSB: 1.8 & 2.6 kHz
  • AM: 5, 7.5, 15 & 25 kHz
  • Non-Broadcast FM 15 & 25 kHz
  • FM Broadcast 200 kHz

The DSP filters have typical sharp skirts; I’ve heard no noticeable ringing in CW. Of course, it would have been a nice touch if the filters were variable, still, the existing filters widths are quite effective.



(Click to enlarge)

The CommRadio CR-1 has a bottom-mounted internal 2.5” diameter commercial grade mylar cone speaker; I find that the downward reflecting speaker with a 1” clearance under the radio make for pleasant audio fidelity. Audio out of the speaker is not as robust as I would like, as it lacks bass response, but the audio produced is clear and crisp.  I imagine it would produce intelligible audio even in a noisy environment.

The CR-1 also has a port for an external speaker and an internal amplifier that will deliver 0.8 watts into an 8 ohm speaker.

A separate headphone jack is conveniently located on the left side of the CR-1’s front panel. It delivers about 40 mW into 16 ohms–more than enough for the various headphones I’ve tested it with. Audio fidelity is excellent, though I have noticed a faint white noise in my review unit––a detectable high-pitched hiss via my CR-1-connected headphones.  It seems to be present at the same low volume even when the volume control is turned down completely; I suspect it may be some noise in the headphone amplifier. The noise does not interfere with listening at all, but audiophiles will certainly notice it. Note: I have reported this to Don Moore, who believes a future firmware revision to the headphone gain chain will fix this.



Small form factor, multiple antenna connectors, easy grounding and flexible power options (6-18 VDC via standard or USB inputs) make the CR-1 a perfect travel companion.


The CR-1 is an excellent shortwave receiver. How do I know? I know because I pitted it against every HF receiver and transceiver I have on hand (which amounts to quite a few) and it held its own with regards to sensitivity and selectivity. It ran fairly neck-and-neck with my Alinco DX-R8, which is a remarkably good receiver. I imagine it would hold its own against the Icom R75 as well, although it lacks many of the R75’s features. Yet it’s priced well below a new R75.

While the CR-1’s automatic gain control (AGC) copes with weaker signals and selective fading, I would still like to see among its features selectable USB/LSB sync detection. This is a tool I often use to eliminate an encroaching signal on a sideband. I suppose it’s possible that this could be included in a future firmware revision. My Alinco DX-R8 also lacks sync detection, however, so in fairness I can’t say this feature should be expected at this price point.


The CommRadio CR-1 (right) is quite portable, comparing in size with the Grundig G3 (left).


The CR-1 could receive all of my local AM stations with ease, but weaker stations were more problematic. This could have been a limitation of my large horizontal delta loop antenna; based on the receiver specs, I imagine this would improve greatly with a proper MW antenna. But it’s worth noting that I was using the HF/MW BNC connector on the back, not the higher impedance port for long wire antennas, which might have produced different results.

On longwave, meanwhile, I found I could copy many of our local airport beacons.


IMG_2949As a bonus, the CR-1 provides wideband continuous coverage from 64 – 225 MHz and 438-468 MHZ, covering the FM broadcast band, Aircraft, Marine, Amateur Radio/Public Service, and GMRS/FRS services.

While I did not spend a great deal of time exploring these portions of the VHF/UHF spectrum, I did find that the CR-1 easily tuned in all my local FM broadcast stations, my local airport tower frequency, and a few amateur repeaters. The squelch control works very well. Note that the CR-1 has a separate UHF/VHF BNC connector on the back panel.  In this review, I simply used a telescopic whip with elbow joint to tune through the band––it’s a great portable accessory.


I took the following review notes of the CommRadio CR-1 from the moment I first turned it on.


  • Wide RX coverage (LW, MW, SW, FM BC/VHF/UHF)
  • Good shortwave sensitivity
  • Tuning ease (see con)
  • Multiple standard antenna connections (VHF/UHF, HF, HF/MW)
  • Simple, intuitive operation; barely requires a manual
  • Selectable tuning modes (Amateur/Shortwave) adapt modes/steps to band plan
  • Well-chosen filter widths, no ringing (see con)
  • Small form factor; compact, sturdy design, perfect for travel
  • Built-in battery option, with excellent life (as much as 8-10 hours)
  • Separate headphone jack (front) and external speaker jack (rear)
  • Flexible power source (USB or 6-18 VDC)
  • Future updates will include IQ out
  • Durable, tough chassis, secure ports, gold-plated circuit board pads


  • No sync detector
  • Bandwidth not variable (see pro)
  • No direct frequency entry (see pro)
  • No noise blanker
  • Very slight white noise hiss can be heard over headphones (slated to be fixed with the firmware update)


The CR-1 puts me in mind of a smaller, updated, and more functional Lowe or Palstar receiver; it has a basic, simple design, yet all of the important features you would expect from a receiver in this class. Moreover, it has the distinct advantage of being an SDR; firmware updates can address customer requests, and functionality added––and tweaked––as needed.

While medium wave performance is fairly average, shortwave sensitivity and selectivity are very good, indeed. The CR-1 copes well with both blowtorch stations and weak signal DX. Though my WinRadio Excalibur has a slightly lower noise floor, the CR-1 holds its own at half the cost.

The CommRadio CR-1 might just be the perfect radio for DXers who like to travel.  I travel fairly frequently, and I like to travel light. You’ll never see me check in luggage at an airport; my carry-on bag (with radio, of course) is sized to fit in the most restrictive of overhead compartments, like those in many turbo-prop commuter planes.  And the CR-1 fits perfectly in my small carry-on.  Though I leave them attached, the feet can be removed, thus reducing its size even further.  I don’t even worry about extra protection for it, since it’s built like a little tank!

Best yet, since the CR-1 was designed by an aircraft avionics manufacturer, the built-in battery contains less than 1gm of lithium, therefore is well within the limits regulations currently impose. What’s more, should your battery deplete, the CR-1 can be powered by a standard USB connection.

CommRadio_CR-1_FrontIn short, the CommRadio CR-1 is a fun little radio and in my opinion well worth its ?$500 price. Moreover, functionality may further improve; for example, May 2013 firmware updates included a built-in, functional CW reader and international frequency steps. CommRadio is planning an update later this summer which will produce IQ-out via the headphone jack, and on a date to be determined, we may even see IQ from the USB port. If these are added, the CR-1 will connect to your sound card or USB port, and external SDR application functionality will further expand.

The CR-1 has a lot of features––and a lot of potential––in a small, sturdy form, always a good formula for a successful radio. And because of this, even though I currently have a number of portable receivers and transceivers, I will add the CR-1 to my radio collection.

Update: I now own a CommRadio CR-1 and have used it many times while travelling. What I love about the CR-1 is that it gives me tabletop receiver performance in a small, sturdy form factor and can literally operate for hours on a fully-charged internal battery. I have also completed a couple of firmware updates, which are multi-step, though still rather simple. CommRadio has been adding functionality and tweaking performance on the CR-1 since its release, which is most encouraging.

You can purchase a new CommRadio CR-1 directly from CommRadio or Universal Radio.

Update (15 November 2013): Please note that since this review was first published, CommRadio has become a sponsor of the SWLing Post. We thank them for their support!

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The best shortwave receiver for your boat or yacht

[Updated: October, 23 2017]

SWLing Post reader, Bob, recently emailed the following question:

Yacht“My wife and I live on a boat and plan to go to the Bahamas this season. We cannot afford to install a SSB radio – costs $7K to $8K. But we need to be able to hear the weather reports and forecasts

So we are thinking of just getting a SW radio receiver.

A friend has purchased a Grundig satellite 750 but it does not seem to have the range, and he has not been successful connecting an antenna.

I think I need a SW radio I can connect to an antenna. I am thinking of a CommRadio CR-1 ?

What do you think?”

Thanks for your question, Bob.  I’m going to give you a few suggestions, then open this one up to your fellow SWLing Post readers, as I suspect there may be some with experience setting up and using an HF receiver on the water.

ImportantAs Bryan commented, just after I posted this review, readers should note that none of the receivers/transceivers I offer here are designed for maritime use, thus they lack features like GMDSS, DSC and DGPS and have no extra protection from the corrosion of salt water on their circuit boards.


The CommRadio CR-1

The CommRadio CR-1

For my part, as an inlander, I think you’re on the right track with the CommRadio CR-1 or CR-1a.  Not only will it cover the entire HF spectrum (for HF weather fax, RTTY and many ship-to-shore communications), but it also covers VHF (64 – 260 MHz) and UHF (437 – 512 MHz) frequencies. The CR-1 is also a very stable receiver and covers all of the modes you’ll need (upper side-band, lower side-band, AM and FM).

If you’re space conscious, fortunately the CR-1 has a very small footprint; you could mount it nearly anywhere. The CR-1 also has a built-in battery pack and can run/charge on an array of DC voltages (6-18 VDC).

You may also wish to consider the Alinco DX-R8T (see our review) or the Icom R-75. The Alinco has a detachable face plate, thus may also be easily accommodated. The Icom R-75 is a great receiver for your application, as well, but is larger than the CR-1 and does not have a detachable face plate option.

Again, I think you’re on the right track with the CommRadio CR-1.

Another option to consider…general coverage ham transceiver

The Kenwood TS-480SAT is full-featured, small, and has a detachable face plate.

The Kenwood TS-480SAT is full-featured, small, and has a detachable face plate.

Here my advice is going to sound a bit like that which I gave reader Phil recently: I would strongly urge you to get your amateur radio license.

It’s a simple process–even elementary kids do it–and the license no longer requires a knowledge of Morse code (CW), (although I am a devotee of code and would suggest pursuing a knowledge of this at a future date).

Moreover, the testing material will make for an excellent primer on radio communications, so if something goes wrong in the middle of the ocean, you’ll be better prepared to diagnose and fix it.

The Yaesu FT-857D

The Yaesu FT-857D

Additionally, in case of an emergency, a ham radio transceiver would provide yet another means of calling SOS to a community that is well-versed in handling emergency communications.

Check out this previous post for suggestions on getting your amateur radio license.

Ham radio transceivers also offer excellent stability and the modes you’ll need to decode any voice or digital mode.

Keeping in mind that you’ll need a transceiver 1) in the same price range as the CR-1, 2) that is compact or has a detachable face plate, 3) has a general coverage receiver, and 4) is rated for 100 watts of output power, I would suggest the following:

The Linco DX-SR8T

The Alinco DX-SR8T

  • The Alinco DX-SR8T. While not a small radio, this rig has a detachable face plate (with optional extension cord), a sensitive receiver and is a great value at $520 new. I favorably reviewed the receiver-only version of this radio two years ago. I’ve heard that the receiver in the DX-R8T is identical to the one in the DX-SR8T. I would purchase this from Universal Radio or Ham Radio Outlet.
  • The Elecraft KX2

    The Elecraft KX3 or Elecraft KX2 are two of my favorite general coverage transceivers–I own both. They can both be powered from a modest 12 VDC source and/or internal batteries. Both are limited to QRP (12 or 15W) transmit power, but an external portable 100W amp can be added. Both are exceptional radios in terms of performance.

  • The Kenwood TS-480SAT. Also worth considering, this transceiver has an excellent receiver with better filters and a smaller footprint than the Alinco DX-SR8T. Though it costs nearly twice as much as the Alinco, it’s on sale until 11/30/13 for $974 from Universal Radio.
  • The Yaesu FT-857D.  This is probably the most compact among the transceiver options listed above. The FT-857D has been on the market for many years and has proven itself a capable mobile transceiver. The detachable face plate could easily be mounted anywhere you wish. The Yaesu FT-857D can be purchased at Universal radio or Ham Radio Outlet.
  • The Icom IC-7000 is an excellent choice for maritime operation. It's possible to find a used one at a good value.

    The Icom IC-7000 is an excellent choice for maritime operation. It’s possible to find a used one at a good value.

    Also consider buying a good-quality used general coverage transceiver from a reputable retailer like Universal Radio, Ham Radio Outlet, The Ham Station or Amateur Electronic Supply. Search for the three models listed above, but I would also consider the Icom IC-706MKII and the Icom IC-7000.

Of course, you will need a good HF antenna for any of these options to work, even the CommRadio CR-1; a radio, after all, is only as good as its antenna.  The type of antenna you can use will be limited by your ability to mount it on on your boat: some are limited-space wire antennas, others are whip antennas.  Make sure the antenna will resonate on the frequencies important for your maritime travels.

Fortunately, most of the retailers listed above have experience in this capacity.


If I were on a boat, I would also carry a portable shortwave radio as a backup. Some to consider are the Tecsun PL-660, Tecsun PL-880Sony ICF-SW7600GR or the Sangean 909X. All of these have SSB mode and good sensitivity, selectivity and stability, although the Sangean ATS-909X requires an external antenna for optimal sensitivity.

There are also a few compact travel radios worth considering as well, although sensitivity generally isn’t as good as the larger, full-featured portables mentioned above. I would consider the CountyComm GP-SSB, Digitech AR-1780, or the C. Crane CC Skywave SSB as a nice spare radio to tuck away on board.

Hope this helps, Bob!  Happy sailing!

SWLing Post readers: if you have experience in maritime HF operation, we welcome your comments and suggestions…

Update: Check out Frank’s maritime radio suggestions.

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On sale now: the CommRadio CR-1, a great little receiver


[UPDATE: Check out our full review of the CR-1 by clicking here.]

A hot tip:  currently, CommRadio offers the CR-1 software-defined tabletop receiver for just $500 (US), until August 1, 2013. Check out the sale on CommRadio’s website and at Universal Radio.

I have been using the CommRadio CR-1 for almost two months now. I had planned to provide a brief review for The SWLing Post by early July, but my travel schedule has simply been too hectic.

MTcover0813coverlgFortunately, however, I offer a full in-depth review in the August 2013 issue of Monitoring Times magazine (incidentally, their turn-around time from submission to print is simply amazing). If you subscribe to MT–or can get your hands on a copy–you will have my full review.

Many of you have been asking me for my thoughts on the CR-1 so you will know whether or not to take advantage of promotional pricing.

In a nutshell, here is the answer your question:

Q: Is the CommRadio CR-1 a good deal?

A: Yes!

Though I was skeptical about this little receiver when I first saw the announcement in January, the CR-1 truly does hold its own. It’s a sturdy radio built with longevity and performance in mind. It’s the little touches I love: a near-perfect tuning knob (in my opinion), size & portability, multiple antenna jacks, an excellent internal battery and gold-plated circuit board pads…Performance-wise, the CR-1 has great sensitivity and selectivity on the HF bands…

Though there are a few negatives, in my book, the positives far outweigh them. If you really want to dig into the juicy details, I would encourage you to check out my full review in the August 2013 issue of Monitoring Times magazine (especially since MT, sadly, is slated to stop publishing at the end of the year).

If you’ve been on the fence about buying the CR-1, I would encourage you to give it consideration before August 1st, 2013, when the price increases to $599 US.

Here is the press release from CommRadio regarding the current $500 sale:

(Source: CommRadio)

CR-1 News for Friday, July 26th, 2013

Our Promotional Price of $500 will increase on August 1st.

All orders made after July 31st will be priced at $599 (battery included).

Order now before the price goes up.

Please note we are working hard to get all radios out as soon as possible, although the lead time could be up to 4 – 5 weeks starting this week (7/24/2013)

For any questions about ordering and shipping

or international orders please contact

Lizz Arias

[email protected]

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The 2013 Dayton Hamvention

WinRadio's booth in the East Hall.

WinRadio’s booth in the East Hall.

Whew! Back from the 2013 Dayton Hamvention.  You may have noticed the lack of posts over the past week–this is just a hint of how incredibly busy I’ve been following this annual event. Every year that I go to the Dayton Hamvention, I come back exhausted…yet somehow energized about the lasting power and utility of radio.

As I’ve mentioned, one of the main reasons I go to the Hamvention is to build awareness about my non-profit, Ears To Our World (ETOW). The Hamvention donates an inside exhibitor table (worth $550+!) to ETOW each year, and our volunteers (myself among them) man it all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Hamvention. My voice was nearly gone by Sunday; I’d estimate we spoke with several hundred people.  But the great news is, we received a record number of donations this year–and on behalf of ETOW, I just want to say, Thank you! to all who support our mission of providing self-powered world band radios to classrooms and communities throughout the developing world.

I spotted this Hallicrafters Super Skyrider in the flea market.  She would look quite good in my radio room!

I spotted this Hallicrafters Super Skyrider in the flea market. She would look quite good in my radio room!

At the Hamvention, I also get a chance to network with friends, meet fellow radio amateurs/shortwave radio listeners, and check out both vintage radios in the outdoor flea market, and new radio innovations inside. One of the great things about representing ETOW is hearing the stories of others who share our belief that shortwave radio has a place on this planet.  It’s very encouraging and cathartic.

Moreover, I’m fortunate that once more this year several SWLing Post readers sought out our booth:  it was terrific meeting each and every one of you! This blog provides me with a sense of radio community that lasts throughout the year; I hope it does the same for you.

My Regency MR-10 Monitoradio.

My Regency MR-10 Monitoradio. (click to enlarge)

Typically, when I go to Dayton, I bring back a few purchases.  This year, I did not find a bargain like my BC-348-Q from 2012, but I did come back with much-needed supplies in the form of  connectors, adapters, cables, and one $6 Regency MR-10 Monitoradio (see photo).

I was thoroughly impressed by the number of innovations I saw at Dayton this year, especially the Software Defined Radios (SDRs) that are new to the market.

CommRadio's president, Don Moore, working with a customer at the Universal Radio booth.

CommRadio’s president, Don Moore, working with a customer at the Universal Radio booth.

One SDR that received a lot of attention, according to Fred Osterman at Universal Radio, was the CommRadio CR-1; it is an SDR in stand-alone tabletop-receiver form (see current sale). Universal sold all of the units they brought to the Hamvention in very short order. We mentioned the CR-1 in an earlier post, and received mixed reactions:  many readers noted that it was very robust, but didn’t have the feature set to make it particularly marketable at the price point.  This doesn’t seem to have mattered.

Fortunately, at the Hamvention, I met with Don Moore, president and founder of CommRadio, who most kindly gave me a loaner radio for review. He’s well aware that my review will be frank, and I’m grateful to have this little receiver in my possession. I have only had it on the air for perhaps an hour so far.  Just long enough to tell that it plays well, has a tidy footprint, is built like a tank and…well, that it’s frankly cute.  I will pit it against my WinRadio Excalibur, Alinco DX-R8T, and Elecraft KX3, and include audio samples in a forthcoming review.  Stay tuned!

WinRadio also had a booth in the East Hall that seemed to have a constant stream of visitors. I found Dennis Walter with Bonito in Hara Arena showing off the RadioJet receiver we reviewed last year. I also saw many other shortwave receiver manufacturers and retailers including C.Crane, Palstar, TAPR, Ten-Tec and Alinco.  Indeed, Alinco hinted that an updated version of the tabletop DX-R8T is on the way, the DX-R9(T).  It will have the same form factor of the DX-R8T, but the receiver will be built around Collins mechanical filters, which will be much easier to replace than the current ones in the DX-R8T. I’ll post an announcement when the DX-R9 is in production.

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CommRadio offering sale on CR-1 for a limited time

The CommRadio CR-1 is on my test bench, ready for review. (Click to enlarge)

The CommRadio CR-1 sitting on my test bench, ready for review. (Click to enlarge)

Gary writes:

There is a limited time sale on the CommRadio CR-1 communications receiver. I received this offer via email today.

CommRadio is offering a SPECIAL SALE through Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Purchase a CR-1 Communications Receiver, with the battery included for free, PLUS take an additional $20 dollars off.

This is a one time DEAL – $480 Dollar Special

The CR-1 will then go back up to $500 until June 4th. Starting June 5th it will go up to $599.

This is your chance now to save with the promotional price.

Terms and Conditions:
One coupon per customer
You may only use it once.
This offer is only for US and Canada shipments.

Expiration day: May 26th 2013

(Enter at check out)


Thanks, Gary, for the tip! I’m in the process of reviewing the CR-1 right now. Check back soon!

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